How to write a persuasive email to apply for your dream (unlisted) job

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A workplace is like an iceberg: there’s a whole lot going on beneath the surface that you can’t see. Restructuring. Comings and goings. Whole new departments materializing to deal with a new project.

A lot of managers are like that, too. You never know quite what they’re planning – or what you could talk them into. Your dream job, for example.

How about sending a cold email: a speculative inquiry for the job you desire? Even if it hasn’t been advertised or might not even exist?

Depending on who you ask, around 80% of jobs are not publicly advertised. It’s a disputed figure because, by definition, nobody can see those unadvertised jobs. But consider that a) you don’t know which companies have unadvertised jobs, and b) it’s often possible to create a job where one doesn’t exist. It’s clear that sending a speculative email to a company you admire could pay dividends.

Plus, around 85% of jobs are gained by networking. Sending an on-spec email is networking. In fact, it’s networking on your terms, which is a distinct advantage to meeting somebody at a crowded conference. When you send a well-composed cold email, you have nothing to lose – and so much to gain. The cold email job application is the start of a conversation that can run and run, even if it doesn’t result in a job straight away.

Finding hidden jobs

Communications major Joseph Rosenberg sent a cold email to restaurant tech start-up Slice, convincing them to give him an internship that didn’t previously exist. From there, Rosenberg rose to become an Acquisition Marketing Associate and then Business Development Associate. “It’s crucial to try different mediums of application to show an employer the value you can deliver,” says Rosenberg. “If you just apply to an open role and move on, you’ll miss out on opportunities you didn’t even know existed.”

Sounds like everybody should be doing it. But in an attention economy, where most of us suffer from email fatigue, it’s very easy for a boss to ignore an uninvited message. That’s why it is essential to get it right. For example, don’t just ask for something. Offer. Demonstrate how you can add value to their business. Example:

“I noticed that you recently started to produce video content. I have some great ideas on how to grow your YouTube audience before Christmas.”

Better than “give us a job,” right?

Anatomy of an on-spec email

Let’s face it: in these strange times, no boss knows exactly what they need or what is going to happen. It’s the perfect moment for potential employees to carve out a niche.

Here at Resume.io, we’d like to offer a helping hand. We researched the science of persuasion and the dynamics of email communication to identify the best practice for writing an on-spec job email. We’ve identified the key sections you need to include in your email and tips to personalize each section and hone it to the job and employer of your dreams.

It couldn’t be easier to construct your cold email using our instructions. Or, compare the email you’ve already written to see how it measures up. By tweaking your introductory email here and there, you’ll soon get something that will grab and hold employers’ attention.

The job landscape may look a whole lot different once you get that first reply.

This article originally appeared in resume.io.